How Videogames Will Modify Architecture

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Source:   —  April 13, 2016, at 11:18 PM

It'south not news to anyone in gaming that there'south something brewing. We've seen enormous creative communities emerge around games love Small Large Planet, Super Mario Maker, and - of course - Minecraft.

How Videogames Will Modify Architecture

I've been working a lot lately at the intersection of creativity and gaming. It'south not news to anyone in gaming that there'south something brewing. We've seen enormous creative communities emerge around games love Small Huge Planet, Super Mario Maker, and - of course - Minecraft. There'south even a title for this new set of gamers: Generation Blockhead.

I've been wondering for quite some time how this new movement will effect the most staid (and highest-budget) form of art on the planet: architecture. I'd the grand fortune recently to meet James Delaney, who might as well be the poster baby for this future. Not only is Delaney a Cambridge architecture student, he's also the boss of BlockWorks, a 40-person global team of top Minecrafters who are pushing the edge of architectural aesthetics within Minecraft itself.

I'd the grand fortune to sit down with Delaney over a rickety internet connection (full video here). From across the Atlantic, he dropped logic on the future of technology, games, and architecture. Quotes below are from that session.

The relationship between games and architecture today is somewhat of a one-way street. As game worlds have gotten more visually rich, game studios have brought in architects to design these spaces. The results are quite epic and nothing if not a success. However, very tiny has traveled in the other direction. Delaney isn't alert of any examples of architectural firms using games as design tools. However, "games love Minecraft have the opportunity to modify that".

In Minecraft, players construct their worlds around them by placing and removing blocks on a regular grid. This creative process has potent historical similarities with another form of creation. ""if you go back maybe fifty, sixty years, the architects of today, quite a few of them reference something love Lego" says Delaney. Today'south children appreciate Lego, but seem distant more inspired by Minecraft. For Delaney, Minecraft is "the digital version of [Lego]... it'south kind of the natural progression of things.... Just as Lego inspired the architects of today, I think we'll obtain the architects of tomorrow having played Minecraft... as a kid".

It turns out that Minecraft has been the driver of what's maybe the first example of real-world architecture being designed in a game. A United Nations program called Obstruct by Obstruct is using Minecraft in diverse locations such as Mumbai, Lima, Kosovo, and Haiti to alleviate community-driven urban planning. Groups of youthful people collect for a workshop where, collectively in Minecraft, they together map and design a space.

As exciting as this program sounds, it falls brief of that latest final step: realizing these Minecraft structures as buildings in the genuine world. While the website claims that the community-driven solutions affect urban planning for those areas, I could discover number direct proof of Minecraft solutions being executed block-by-block in these neighborhoods. I can't really fault Mojang and the UN for this -- physical construction is dramatically more expensive than these digital workshops they sponsor. However, I can dream.

You see, real-world fabrication is for me where games start to definitively tag architecture. And Delaney agrees that it'south "the precise point where something that'south in a vidoegame is taken and ... built in the genuine world which is really interesting". Buildings made with games would see totally different. A building built in Minecraft is sure to be blocky. A building made from the elements of Small Huge Planet, Super Mario Bros., or Borderlands would number doubt have a fantastical nature to them. I can look Age of Empires inspiring post-modern revitalizations of a slew of historical models. And of course we've games love Fallout and Gears of War to inspire architectural visions that border on post-apocalyptic nightmare.

Delaney agrees with me that new tools will inspire new architecture noting that "the tool that you utilize is gonna have a genuine influence on the work you produce." However, his insights into the transformations we might expect are much more subtle.

When using traditional CAD systems, architects are always exterior of the building -- somewhat love building a Lego model, architects construct from that outside, as if gods.

Working in games love Minecraft, architects of the game world create buildings from the inside. This first-person approach brings "a totally different perspective ... to the design process" says Delaney, one in which the experience of the building at a human-scale is ever-present. "The idea of being able to design a building ... as you move through the space is super-attractive to an architect.". However, it'south only available in games love Minecraft. Delaney laments that this approach for architects is "not offered by the standard tools".

This first-person, gaming perspective on design may become increasingly necessary as we be engaged in with our device-laden worlds. "Emotional through a building whilst trying to send an email isn't simple because buildings haven't been designed for that" says Delaney. It turns out that first-person games are precisely the tools for such design challenges. While this approach to design -- where the building fades into the background -- might be anathema to traditional architects if that'south "how people are using the space, that'south what it'south gotta be designed for".

Beyond these formal possibilities, the community-based creative principles that are the foundation of Generation Blockhead might've a larger yet influence on architecture. Delaney is quite excited by "the opportunity for a democratized form of design, particularly public spaces". This grouping approach to design is common practice in Minecraft. For Generation Blockhead, collaborative world design is the norm.

The future potential of these tools is a communal, democratic process for designing our cities. For Delaney, "we can't rely on a minority to shape the world we live in". Unfortunately, looking at past history that's too frequently been the case. Let'south hope that the following generation, for whom the norm is a multiplayer creative commons, will discover a way to modify that. Minecraft is just one of many tools to involve the public in the design of buildings, cities, and parks. Augmented Reality could go so distant as to deliver individualized experiences of the built city.

Whatever the future of architecture may hold, games are certain to play a role. As once-revolutionary digital CAD tools become conventional, developments in gaming and entertainment menace to turn the tables yet again. The legend will unfurl in the following decade as a new generation, groomed on Minecraft, enters the world of professional architecture.

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